The 340i has been the flagship model in the 3 series for a while now. That is before you step into M car territory. I’ve always looked at the 340i as the poor man’s M3, but not that it’s really cheap either. It’s just a tad more affordable and for now, with its fantastic X-drive, it puts the power down very, very well. It’s still predominantly rear-wheel drive, but will send the power to the front when it needs to.
The engine is a real gem. The b58 now makes 285kw and a rather healthy torque figure of 500nm out of its simply amazing sounding straight 6 twin-scroll single turbo engine. The crackles and pops on downshifts had me grinning like a kid and made my purposely drive the car around in sport mode, most the time. The 8-speed ZF auto is smooth and quick shifting, geared short up to about 4th gear where things start to open up, and cruising comes into play. The 0-100kph comes up in about 4 seconds and will run onto the north side of 250kph without a problem. Overall the fuel economy is very acceptable, with our eco run coming in at 7l/100km on the open road, but this is quickly turned on its head in urban areas, where it will settle around the 11l/l100km.
The new G series platform is completely revised on the inside with a new dash layout as well as seats and infotainment systems. Our car, naturally fitted with all the bells and whistles included audio gesture controls too. The Harmon Kardon setup is one option I would not leave unticked in any new BMW, it is simply fantastic sounding. The new style gauges and thick steering feels M car sporty and has a lovely feel to the hands.
The overall driving ergonomics are typically M-Sport BMW. The chunky steering feels direct and the response is great. The paddle shifters also respond with little to no lag and shifts are on time, every time, except when you are in eco-pro, where things are much smoother, but with obvious purpose.
As an everyday driver, the 340i comes with everything with relative ease. Leave it in comfort and you would hardly know that you have 285kw at your disposal. It will cruise happily at the speed limit and also without a doubt get you out of most sticky overtaking situations with no drama or fuss. I really love how the engine responds in sport plus, where the whole driving experience is turned into a form of aural pleasure. The noise it makes while you depress the accelerator is intoxicating. There is so very few cars that actually sound this good while going fast. The unfortunate thing is, when you drive ambitiously, you get punished with a fuel bill. I don’t mind that though, the smiles are worth it.
Overall the 3 series stays a benchmark in this segment with its main rivals the C43 and the new S4, all making similar power, but the Bimmer has them beat by a few horses. In the end, it really comes down to being brand biased. I love the opposing brands as much, but the 3 series just talks to me with emotion.